5 Rules to Live By

5 Rules to Live By

by China Brooks


1.    Give Advice/Opinion Only When Asked

When we give others our advice and opinion without being asked, it can cause resentment. Unfortunately, that’s usually the opposite effect of what we intended. We can come across looking judgmental, authoritative, and controlling.

Sometimes we offer advice because we believe we have the other person’s best interest at heart. But how do we know what is best for them? We are not walking in their shoes. We don’t see the world from their perspective. Who made us God and the world police? When did we get the authority to tell others how to live and to change? Would we like it if others told us how to live?

We can however; be open for healthy, constructive criticism. I don’t get defensive when someone tells me I need to change. Depending on who it is, of course, I welcome honest feedback. I pay attention, listen, and I see if they are in fact correct. If there is any truth to what they are saying to me, I go to work to change.

There are a couple of reasons why we offer unsolicited advice and opinion:

  • We want the other person to change. It's easier to ask someone else to change than it is to take responsibility and change from within. Perhaps we feel that our lives would be better if they would change. This is untrue. Change is an inside job. If we are unwilling to change ourselves, we have no right to ask another to change. Change has to start with us. This is exactly what Gandhi meant when we said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world."
  • We think we are right. We believe that we are correct and that we have the right answers for what everyone should do. Instead of being wise, we simply have a limited view.
  • We think we will feel better if they change. "Home-girl would be so much better to be around if she would only stop..." I used to think that if those around me would stop gossiping and doing a ton of drugs that it would make my life better. But what really needed to happen was for me to stop gossiping and for me to stop doing drugs. When I changed on the inside, my environment changed. But even so, I had no right to tell others to change when they never asked me for advice. I can only change myself and I can only live by example. It's like Jesus said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." That sure isn't me. 


2.    Pay Attention to the Feelings of Others

“When you hear someone criticizing you, pay attention because it says something about them.” –Julie Brooks

A lot of times we make fun of others because it takes the attention off of our own deficiencies and low self esteem. I had a friend, when someone would confide in him about a problem or lack in his or her life, he would immediately make fun of it. He would also make fun of himself, calling himself “fatty.”

When someone pours out his or her innermost secrets to us in a private, personal way, it’s offensive to turn around and make fun of it. It ruins trust, hurts feelings, and makes people defensive. Have you ever known someone who would use your secrets against you when they were mad at you? It’s the same sort of thing - abusive.

I know that some people live by sarcasm. Some even claim to be a part of the International Society of Sarcasm. I’m not telling anyone not to be sarcastic. Sometimes it’s funny. What I’m talking about is when it crosses a line and hurts the feelings of another person.

Now granted, we are not responsible for the emotions of other people. When someone else gets butt hurt, sometimes they just need to grow up and stop blaming everyone else for their lack of self-esteem. However, we can learn to be more aware of when we are making fun of others in a way that hurts their feelings. Instead of tearing people down by making fun of them, let’s build people up.


3.    Give/Offer Help Only When Asked

There are times when offering help without being asked is a good thing. Helping children and the elderly are examples of this. But when someone who is fully able to fend for himself needs help, we have to look at the reasons why.

  • Sometimes helping can do more harm than good. People need to learn from their mistakes. If we are always rescuing them from the consequences of their actions, they never learn. They never grow up to be a person who can deal with their own problems. They look to others to fix everything in their lives. People have to learn to find solutions within themselves. They must learn how and why it’s best to rely on themselves. This is part of them knowing that they are powerful. When we fix everything for another person we actually leave them powerless. It’s just as the parable says, we can teach others how to fish instead of fishing for them.
  • Sometimes helping is co-dependent savior mentality.

    We all want to feel wanted and appreciated; it makes us feel good. But approval is best when it’s generated from within. We need to approve of ourselves first. The more we approve of ourselves from within, the less we need external validation. Relying on external approval is dangerous. When others are happy and pleased with us, we feel good. When others are displeased with us, we feel bad. This way, we are susceptible to the emotional whims of everyone around us. Usually, the approval of others is contingent upon whether or not we give them what they want and act in the way they want us to act. The moment we stop doing what they want, they might withdraw their approval. If we depend on external approval for our self-esteem and self worth, we’re in trouble. Often times when we find ourselves in savior mentality, it’s because we want everyone to like us. The reality is, we need to ‘save’ ourselves. Meaning, we can only give to others that which we have given to ourselves first. Savior mentality is scary because it sets us up as this holier than thou wise authority who knows what is right for everyone. Savior complex usually means that the person has deep issues themselves that they don’t want to deal with. It’s draining and co-dependent, keeping the ‘savior’ distracted so they don’t have to face their own inner turmoil. Instead of saving others, which we don’t need to do, we can set an example in our own lives by the way we live. This way we empower others to know they have the power within themselves to handle anything in their lives. We can show them, via our own lives, that they are more powerful than any circumstance and situation. If we keep rescuing them, no one wins. It’s dis-empowering all the way around.When people keep creating problems in their lives, they are in a toxic living pattern. Diving in and helping pulls this toxic energy into our own lives. Some people love drama; they are entertained by it and they feed off of it. Just say no.


4.    Work Only to Change Ourselves

Do we want others to try and change us? Most of us do not want other people telling us how to live. When others try to change us, it’s annoying. Sometimes the other person comes across as if they are claiming to be smarter and more successful at life. When we try to change others, we come across the same way.

Granted, sometimes we want the advice of another person who is more successful than we are. We want to hear what they have to say and we are ready, willing and able to change. In this case, the person giving the advice truly leads by example.

But most of the time the advice we are given was not asked for. It’s unwanted and given by people who are less successful than we are. Most of the time people want us to change because it’s easier than them having to change themselves. They believe that their lives would be better if we changed. When in reality they are the ones who need to change.


5.    Correct Others Only When Asked

I have an agreement with my friend who is an English teacher. I want her to correct me if have improper spelling and grammar. But that is an agreement we have previously made between the two of us. In life, this is not always the case. When we correct others without having been asked, we can come across as presumptuous. It can seem as if we are saying, “I’m smarter than you and I know more.” It can make the other person feel stupid, especially when they are corrected in front of a group of people.

Usually we correct others because we genuinely believe we are right. But sometimes we open our mouths without having done enough research. We aren’t entirely clear on what the other person is saying, why they are saying it and what they really mean.

These rules are a fast track to inner peace, serenity, and compassion. They help us to live in the world and not be so disappointed by others that it paralyzes us. We are freed from the suffering that unrealistic expectation causes. When we cease trying to change others, we focus on being the change we wish to see, and we become active examples (like MLK and Gandhi) of those who take responsibility for the Divine Birthright and Inheritance of man as God in expression.

Five Things That Will Change Your Financial Life Forever

Five Things That Will Change Your Financial Life Forever

by China Brooks


1. Emergency Fund

An Emergency Fund is the brain child of Dave Ramsey (Financial Peace Boot Camp). It's a savings account containing a minimum of $1,000, acting as a cushion in case an unexpected cost arises. Have you ever needed emergency car repairs that you couldn't afford? Has your pet ever needed a visit to the vet that you didn't have money for? Have you ever been in a car accident and had trouble paying the car insurance deductible? Having an emergency fund saves you all this trouble and keeps you from going into debt (using a credit card).

In 2009, I was in 3 car accidents; two were not my fault, the third one was. The first time, my car was parked and someone hit it at night, leaving no note. $500 deductible. The second time, a young kid busted a u-turn right into me. $500 deductible. The third time I scraped this old man's car. $500 deductible. That's $1,500 in one year. Back in the day I would have freaked out. I might have taken out a loan and gone into debt, but instead I had my emergency fund. I was okay. (p.s. It's now 2017 and I haven't been in an accident or had a ticket since - knock on giant redwood forests). 

2. Living Expense Fund

This fund is six months to one year of your living expenses saved up. I always save enough money to have a comfortable six months. I especially need this because I do not have a typical nine-to-five job. Basically, I play Russian Roulette with my income sources, which I like because it keeps me from getting bored. It also puts more pressure on me to be financially organized and plan ahead. A living expense fund will save your ass if you get fired, need to quit, get sick, have a family emergency, want to travel, etc.

3. Periodic Expense Fund

The Periodic Expense Fund is for things such as car registration, a once a year AAA bill, dentist visits, passport renewal (every ten years), etc. I pay my car insurance bill from this fund (six months to a year in advance), which saves money. Sit down and ask yourself, “How much money do I really need to live for a year?” A fully-funded periodic expense fund is ideal, but the emergency fund and the living expense funds are the most important corner stones.

4. Setting Up Savings Accounts

Set up a minimum of three savings accounts for your emergency fund, your living expense fund, and your periodic expense account. Set up additional savings accounts for large periodic expenses such as travel, property taxes, rental income money, union dues, etc. One year I could not pay my property taxes ($4,800), or my SAG dues (1.25% of my yearly earnings). That was the same year I made $100,000 in two months, which doesn't make any sense, right? I haven't had that issue since I organized my finances. It's not the amount of money you make, it's what you do with it. 

5. Pay Off Your Debt

Pay off your debt and live debt free - paying off debts with highest interest first. Attack credit cards, car loans, student loans, and then the mortgage ('mort' means death in French, by the way). The great thing about debt is that once it's paid off, you never have to get into it again! Trust me that you will feel so much better without that monkey on your back!

These five steps guarantee that you don't ever have to go into debt to pay any of your bills, and it gives you peace of mind. In 2008, I saved enough money for seven months of living expenses (I lived by myself), which included moving twice and those three unexpected car accidents. I also paid off my car, and I paid for my new business (no business loan). I paid my SAG dues, property taxes, and car insurance bills in full. 

How To Interpret Your Dreams

April 24, 2011
by China Brooks


How To Interpret Your Dreams


Pay attention to your dreams, they are free therapy, here to help you.  Dreams are your subconscious mind's way of sending you a message and telling you something.  Through your dreams you can see where you are in your life, your strengths, and what you need to work on.

You may wake up only remembering certain parts of your dream.  Some details will stand out vividly while others you won't remember at all.  By you remembering only certain things, your subconscious mind is trying to bring your attention to those things.  The details you remember are the most important ones.  If you didn't remember it, it's not important.

Sometimes a dream can be psychic.  I have had dreams that actually came true in waking life.  One time I had a dream that an acquaintance was on a farm having a spiritual experience.  Months later I saw him and he told me that he had been on a farm and it was one of the most enlightening experiences he ever had.

Some dreams are just for release.  I have had dreams that were simply for the purpose of letting go or getting something off of my chest so I could feel better.  Your subconscious helps let go of toxic people, places, things, habits, and lifestyles.  It lets you know that it's not only okay to let go, but that you need to let go.  Through release you are more able to embrace new chapters of your life.  Release dreams can signify huge life changes you are going through at the moment.


1.  What Time Did You Have Your Dream?

Dreams that occur in the beginning of your sleep cycle reveal the present.  Middle of the night dreams are predictive.  Early morning dreams (right before you wake) are for release.

2.  Everything In Your Dream Means Something

Look at everything in your dream (write it down if it helps).  Anything in your dream can have meaning; the colors of the walls, the way you felt, where you were, what the place looked like, what time it was, what the weather was like, who you were with, and what color and fabric you and your companions were wearing.  Everything means something.

3.  Always Pay Attention To Colors, Textures and The Elements

Always pay attention to the colorsof things.  White stands for purity and gray stands for uncertainty.  If you dream of gray concrete it means you need to gain clarity over an uncertain (gray area) issue in your life.  Once you begin to get better at interpreting your dreams, many things (such as colors) become common sense.  For example, water...

4.  Water Stands For Consciousness

Water stands for consciousness.  The condition of the water always says something.  Is the water clear?  Muddy?  Dirty?  Clean?  Is it calm, choppy, or downright stormy?  What color is the water?  Is it deep or shallow?  Were you scared of the water or was it inviting?

5.  What People Mean In Your Dream

When you dream of a certain person or a group of people, you always have to take into account how you feel about them in your waking life, which will tell you a lot.  What do these people represent to you, what kind of behaviors were they expressing in the dream and how were they making you feel?

Here is a question from a friend whose dream I interpreted:  Do you feel that when another person is in our dream that they are actually “in it” or “connected”?  v. the “everyone in our dream is us” philosophy?  I personally think it can be both.  Depends on the dream or/ situation.

Answer:  I agree, it depends on the dream/ situation.  However, my dreams are usually intuitive, psychic, and prolific.  In dreams, people come to me for a number of reasons.  Either they need spiritual support or they are supporting me, or both.  People also come to me in dreams to give me an update on how they are doing, especially if I have not seen them in a while.  They also show up just to hang out, but this is rare.  People can also represent something for the dreamer, such as an old lifestyle coming to an end. When I dream of someone, I can tell by the dream exactly how they are doing in life and what deep issues and desires they are working on.

6.  Flying

Flying is always good and points to a high degree of awareness.  If you have been flying a lot in your dreams lately, that should tell you something.  How high did you fly?  Did you feel free or scared when you flew?  If you were scared, did you fly any way?  What is your flying style?  My friend flies like Superman.  When I was younger, I used to fly like a frog.  Now I just shoot up in to the air, but I can still gain an extra boost of power by doing a quick frog hop (like when you are swimming).

According to Medicine Cards by Sams and Carson, Frog symbolizes healing.  “An ability of frog medicine people is to give support where it is needed.  A Frog medicine person can clean negativity from any environment.  Call to Frog to find peace in the joy of taking time to give to yourself.  A part of this giving is cleansing yourself from any person, place, or thing that does not contribute to your new state of serenity and replenishment.”  Needless to say, the way you fly in your dreams says a lot about you.

7.  Death

People seem to think that death is a bad thing.  I could not disagree more.  20,000 Dreams says, “Death stands for termination; finality.  May not specifically point to a physical death.  Dead means an absolute conclusion; a final closing.”  I know that death signifies the end of an era or time your life.  It can be the end of a relationship, a way of life, or a way of thinking; the possibilities are endless.

8.  Do You Have Trouble Remembering Your Dreams?

If you normally can't remember your dreams, I suggest you take a look at your daily lifestyle. Do you drink a lot of coffee or smoke a lot of weed?  Those things will make you fuzzy and you will not remember you dream life.  I had a friend who could never remember his dreams.  Then he quit smoking pot and cigarettes for a while and his dreams became very vivid.  The healthier I am, the clearer I become and the more intense my dream life becomes.  I think this is general rule for life.  The healthier you are, the better quality of your life.  It's the same with dreams.

9.  Dream Books I Use and Recommend

Zolar's Encyclopedia; Dictionary of Dreams

The Dreamer's Dictionary Stearn Robinson; Tom Corbett (This one is sometimes very similar to Zolar's)

20,000 Dreams Mary Summer Rain (My current favorite)



18 Free Ways to Change Your Money Habits

18 FREE Ways To Change Your Money Habits

by China Brooks


“The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin now.”


The first step (and FREE to you) is to make a commitment to get your finances organized.

You will be surprised how the universe lines up to help you in ways you never thought of. I recall seeing a great financial book at my friend's mom's house. It was much too basic her for so she let me have it, and score! That book changed my life.


1. Read Books

You can check out books for free at your public library. You can also ask friends if they have any books you can borrow. Not only can you read financial books and publications but you can read autobiographical books about others who have the financial knowledge you desire, and gain tips on how you can follow in their footsteps. With so much information around, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Usually newsletters give great, free information. You can also start a book club on a social networking site where you and your friends can loan each other books on the subject of finances. I want you to think outside the box regarding how you can get financial information for free. 

2. Meet With Financial Advisers

Financial advisers want your business. Some charge to meet with them for an initial consultation, but many do not, especially if you were referred to them via one of their existing clients (perhaps a friend or family member of yours). I met with Smith and Barney and Sherri Shepherd's old business manager for free. You don't have to tell anyone your financial situation or how much money you have. You're just there to get information and “act like” you're interviewing them to see if you are good fit or not (you will need to hire someone at some point - which is a great thing!). That means you can ask all the financial questions you want.

3. Read Blogs, Websites, and Newsletters 

I subscribe to Saving Advice. Do some research - I am sure there are other blogs you can subscribe to for free, or websites you can visit such as (Forbes.com and theeconomist.com). Mint.com has lots of cool interviews and articles as well. Usually newsletters give great, free information. I am signed up for Abundance Bound; financial organization for actors. I have never actually taken her $600 course, but the author recommends great books all the time in her newsletters. 

I recommend starting with Dave Ramsey's book, The Total Money Makeover. You can also scan his site for free information. Do you know someone who is already a member of his site or has his book? Ask them if you can borrow the book or use their password for free. It's worth a try and if not, perhaps you can barter with your friend so they get something of use out of the deal as well. Audible also gives a free 30 day trial where you get a complementary book. 

Also, Google "financial journals," and "financial publications". 

4. Ask People You Know

Ask people you know if they have any information (what books, magazines, and websites to read). Do you know anyone with an Economics degree? You could even email a college Economics professor - I bet they will get back to you and be more help than you imagined. If you know anyone with money, even more than you have, ask them how they do it. Sit down and talk with them, and pay attention to what they do, how they live, and what money habits (and life habits) they keep. Don't be afraid to ask questions, ever. 

5. Use Those Airline Points

Do you have points from an airline that you never use? Sometimes airlines will let you chose free magazines if you aren't going to use your points to travel with. Either way, be smart and use those points! 

6. 30 Day Consumer Fast

Consumer fasting is great because just like regular fasting, it clears your head by taking your mind off of money and spending. It gives you time to think clearly and re-assess your spending habits.

7. YouTube, Movies, and Television 

I haven't even begun to explore what’s available on YouTube but I bet there is tons of financial information there (use your discernment). In fact, someone has probably already done videos regarding this subject.

Born Rich and the One Percent by Jamie Johnson (Johnson and Johnson heir) are available to view for free on YouTube and Google.

Do a YouTube and Google search for financial information and if you find anything good, let me know! 

CNBC is an actual money station on television that you can watch for those of you with cable.

8. Create A Budget

Uh oh, it's the dreaded 'B' word! I'm not going to go into this in detail but you figuring out how much you actually make v. how much you actually spend and then tailoring your budget to keep you within your means is super smart. A budget can keep you from spending more than you make (I know, what a concept!). 

9. Cut Out Impulse Buying

Do you buy things you don't need only to get them home and regret the purchase? Impulse buying is a huge money drain. Want a way to stop that? Read on...

10. Mandatory Waiting Period

In 2006 I made a rule that if I see something I like, I have to wait 30 days to buy it. Your waiting period can be however long you want but I recommend at least two weeks. I find that 95% of the time I no longer want the item in question. A waiting period gives me time to research a product and keeps me from buying technology that is outdated or still needs to have the bugs worked out. I am also able to find the product that is truly right for me, get the best deal, and spend only what I really can afford in the moment. It also gives me time to save money to buy the highest quality version. 

11. Hang Out With Abundant People

Hang out with people who have things and speak well of money. You are influenced by those around you, they actually help shape and mold who you are. Spending time with those who have healthy relationships with money will only work to your advantage. 

12. Visualize

You create your life via the thoughts you think. Do you want your life to change for the better? Do you want more money? If you keep seeing things as is, then all you will get is more of what you see. “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” -Albert Einstein. In order to change things, you must begin to tell a different story. Your brain does not know the difference between what is real (what you are seeing in the physical world) and what you visualize/fantasize about.

Relax for 15 minutes and see your life as you would like it to be, focusing on the end result. It's not so important to visualize lots of money, as it is to visualize yourself enjoying the things that you want the money for. Do you want a new home? Visualize yourself in that home, always focusing on the end result. How it's going to happen is not your concern. What you must do is to see this new life so intensely that it's your predominant thought. In other words, you must believe that it already exists. Then let it go and get on with your life, and have the courage to take inspired action?

You should visualize daily, or as often as you can, and keep going even when you really believe it to be true. You also must be a vibrational match for your desire, as in cultivate and remain in a high state of gratitude and appreciation for what you already have. What I mean by that is you can't walk around with a negative attitude and expect these wonderful, high-vibrational things to come into your experience. You have to keep it positive. 

13. Set Goals

Having goals and being committed is empowering. When you know you are doing your best in a certain area, how you does that make you feel? It makes you feel great, right? When you are committed, and you have self discipline, you begin to see results and you feel amazing about yourself and your life. Set goals! You can also set goals with friends to help keep you accountable. Start a financial group with your friends, find support if you need it, and make it fun.

14. Be Frugal

There are so many things you know you don't need, but you spend money on them anyway. Are you kind of addicted to buying whatever you want, whenever you want? That's cool, as long as you have plenty of money, no debt, you own property if you want to, and your car is paid for. If it's really hard for you to break the habit of buying stuff you don’t need (or really love and will get great use out of), consider doing a Consumer Fast and/or making a new rule of a 30-day mandatory waiting period.

15. Don't Take Loans

Loans are the devil. Well, there's good debt and there's bad debt. Good debt is hiring a serious high ROI business coach where you will double (and even triple your money) provided you consistently do the work. Bad debt is buying furniture, clothes, etc.

Why take a loan and pay a bank three times the amount you borrowed just to have easy and fast access to cash? If you pay for something with a credit card, and you don't pay the card off immediately, you could end up paying three to four times the amount of the original purchase price. Do you really want to pay three times the amount of the retail price for a pair of jeans? Do you really want to keep making the bankers (who have broken the middle class in half) rich? Look what they are doing now - they aren't even loaning money in a time when people need it the most. Most banks are not your friends, and loans come from banks. They are self-serving. Credit is like crack: it's whack! Just say no as much as you can. It's better to calculate how much money you need to accomplish your goals and then figure out how to make that money. 

16. Read Your Bill Statements

The other day I noticed my car insurance bill had gone up, so of course, I called my insurance carrier. California rates had increased in general, however; the total number of miles I was now driving per year was lower than the year before. That little change saved me $240 a year in car insurance. Make sure you read your bills carefully and be clear on any cost increases. Also, companies have been known to make mistakes and charge more than they are supposed to. I'm kind of anal about that stuff so I keep most of my receipts. Thank God, because once a gas station tried to run a fraud on my account and charge me twice in one day for a full tank of gas. Having the receipt saved my ass.

17. Be Organized

I have given you 17 ways to be more financially organized. If you do even a few things I have told you, it will change your life forever. You will sleep better at night, you will have peace of mind, you will have more control and power in your life. 

18. Research/Do You Homework Before You Make Purchases

Especially on large purchases such as cars, homes, and electronics. Usually too, I notice most things can be found for less money. If you have the money and you really want an item then by all means buy it. But most technology is old within six months and will drastically drop in price. There have been times when I wanted a pair of shoes, only to buy them and find them on sale somewhere else. I bought some editing software which went on sale for half price a month later. I'm just sayin', shopping around can be a wise thing to do. Know what you are getting yourself into.

What are some ways you’ve learned to change your money habits for free?